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General store in Tignish reopening in its new home Wednesday

Workers put the final touches on the new Eugene’s General Store in Tignish, which will hold its grand opening on Wednesday.
Workers put the final touches on the new Eugene’s General Store in Tignish, which will hold its grand opening on Wednesday. - Jason Simmonds
TIGNISH, P.E.I. —

Carter Morrissey knows all about dealing with adversity during his brief career operating a business.

The owner of Eugene’s General Store in Tignish was not only faced with having to rebuild the longtime business after the original building was destroyed by fire on Oct. 6, 2019, but the coronavirus (COVID-19) provided unexpected challenges and delays.

“It wasn't that bad, although it was stressful at times and it still is, but it only started to get really stressful when the virus came around,” said Morrissey in a recent interview as preparations continued for Wednesday’s grand opening.

Up until that point, Morrissey said everything was going according to plan and on schedule.

Carter Morrissey is the owner of Eugene’s General Store in Tignish.
Carter Morrissey is the owner of Eugene’s General Store in Tignish.

“We were going to be done the first of March and we were, the building has been ready for months,” said Morrissey, who expressed his appreciation to the community for their strong support since the fire.

“But it was filling it up, trying to get certain things and make a few things happen that was not simple with the virus.”

Morrissey said the store was on target for an early April opening, but there were delays in receiving shelves and coolers from factories in Quebec that were shut down for a long time due to COVID-19.

“If you stumble a bunch of times when you are trying to get somewhere, but you keep going, eventually you get to where you are going. You just need to keep pushing.”

This was part of the ups and downs, and Morrissey agreed with the assessment that maintaining an even-keel during the rebuilding process was important.

“I have a lot of hair on my head, but there were times I was ready to pull every strand out,” he said with a smile.

“If you stumble a bunch of times when you are trying to get somewhere, but you keep going, eventually you get to where you are going. You just need to keep pushing.”



Tignish landmark

Morrissey said it was very sad to see the old store go because it had been a part of the Tignish community for 80 years.

“The world does change, people adapt, and everything is newer and better,” said Morrissey.

Morrissey, 28, has been the sole owner since purchasing the business from Tommy and Joanne Perry in February 2018. Tommy is the son of Eugene Perry, the founder of Eugene’s General Store. 

“I always loved numbers, I love business,” said Morrissey. “This is a farming and fishing town and I am not a fisherman or a farmer, so I had to do something else. This is perfect.”

Firefighters from Tignish, Miminegash and Alberton fire departments worked to extinguish a fire at Eugene's General Store in Tignish in 2019. - SaltWire file
Firefighters from Tignish, Miminegash and Alberton fire departments worked to extinguish a fire at Eugene's General Store in Tignish in 2019. - SaltWire file

 


Blow to community

Morrissey said things were progressing well with Eugene’s from the time he took it over until the fire.

Store employee Brittany Doyle described Eugene’s as “a very big part” of the Tignish community.

“Whenever it burnt, it was a big loss to the whole community,” said Doyle.

Longtime store patron Barry Fennessey recalled watching the fire at Eugene’s.

“I was heartbroken to tell you the truth,” said Fennessey.

“It was quite a blow to the community.”

Eugene’s General Store employee Brittany Doyle pours a cup of coffee at the Tignish business.
Eugene’s General Store employee Brittany Doyle pours a cup of coffee at the Tignish business.


Morrissey said it was very discouraging and he could not put words together to describe the fire.

“It would have been better if I could have held onto it for a few more years to get more experience before I had to plan a whole new store build,” said Morrissey.

“That wasn’t in the business plan when I first bought Eugene’s.”

Morrissey immediately began focusing on the future. A temporary store and drive-thru were established, and plans to rebuild were put in motion.

He admitted running the business and overseeing construction at the same time provided challenges.
 


Watch: Firefighters work to extinguish the fire that destroyed Eugene's General Store on Oct. 6, 2019
 

Fond memories

Doyle, who was born and raised in Tignish, has many fond memories of Eugene’s, which has been a fixture in the tight-knight West Prince community.

“It’s been here forever,” said Doyle.

“I remember it as a kid we used to come here to get treats all the time at the store and our meat and stuff for our lunches for school.”

An aerial photo of Eugene's General Store in Tignish. Submitted photo/Joanne Leclair-Perry
An aerial photo of Eugene's General Store in Tignish. Submitted photo/Joanne Leclair-Perry

Doyle, who has been working in the temporary store, said she can’t wait for the new store to open.

“It means a lot to the community,” said Doyle.

“If you just want to come in here for convenience, a bag of potatoes and a couple of other things, you can just run in here for that.”

Fennessey, who has lots of memories patronizing Eugene’s since he was a kid, said it means a lot to the community to have the store moving into a new and bigger home.

“Everybody comes and knows the store and everybody knows everybody who goes to the store,” said Fennessey. 



Need To Know

A look at Eugene’s General Store in Tignish:

  • The rebuilt store will hold its grand opening on Wednesday.
  • The store hours are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., daily.
  • The new building will feature 2,300 square feet of store space. By comparison, the old store was 1,650 square feet and that included storage and office space.
  • The extra space will allow Eugene’s to expand and sell new products.
  • Eugene’s is adding a full-time butcher and there will be a strong focus on meat products.
  • Including owner Carter Morrissey, the store employs 18 people.
  • The original Eugene’s General Store, which was destroyed by fire on Oct. 6, 2019, was built in 1939.

A photo of Eugene's General Store in Tignish dating back to about the 1950s when it was owned by Eugene and Anne Marie Perry. Submitted photo/Joanne Leclair-Perry
A photo of Eugene's General Store in Tignish dating back to about the 1950s when it was owned by Eugene and Anne Marie Perry. Submitted photo/Joanne Leclair-Perry

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